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How can I stop a panic attack from happening?

20 Answers
Last Updated: 08/23/2021 at 11:54pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
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Alex DS Ellis, MA, LMFT

Marriage & Family Therapist

Feeling depressed or anxious can be so overwhelming. I want to help you feel better and be able to enjoy life. You are not alone and you deserve emotional support.

Top Rated Answers
May 14th, 2015 5:20pm
Peace of mind. Sharing thoughts. Facing fears to their end. These will help you to over come panic attacks. But you should be bold enough to face them.
July 27th, 2015 8:01pm
When you believe you are about to have a panic attack, the first step is to breathe. The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is what has worked the best for me. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold that breath for 7 seconds, and release the air through your mouth for 8 seconds. Keep repeating until you feel your heartbeat slowly returning to normal. While you are breathing, visualize air coming in through the soles of your feet during the first intake of air, imagine it swirling around your head while you're holding your breath, before finally traveling down your body and leaving through the soles of your feet as you breathe out. This keeps you feeling grounded and connected to Earth as often times panic attacks leave us feeling as though we are drifting aimlessly.
July 12th, 2016 4:06am
I usually try to stabilize my breathing. I picture I'm alone in my favorite place (usually a garden) and I breathe in for 7 seconds and breathe out for 11. I call it the 7/11 method. Keeping your mind clear and your breathing stable is the most import part. If it doesn't work, you can always come back here and chat! We would love to help you!
January 10th, 2015 6:02am
One of the main reasons panic attacks are often so debilitating is that you can't stop one from happening (usually). The only two things you can do are: prevent the panic attack or cope with it until it's over. Preventing a panic attack has a lot to do with understand what sets off your anxiety. Stay away from triggers, try to stay in your comfort zone, and since life isn't nice and orderly, develop a support network to help you in general when you do have to go outside into a triggering environment. Coping mechanisms for panic attacks vary wildly from person-to-person. Personally the only thing that worked for me was time, for others deep breathing, meditation, breathing into a paper bag, taking a nap, and many other things are their coping mechanism. Fighting a panic attack can often make it worse. It's here, it's happening, and once it happens accept it and start your coping mechanisms. That should help you recover from it as fast as possible.
February 8th, 2015 9:59pm
Take yourself away from the situation if you can. Find somewhere you feel safe and concentrate on your breathing. Try to do square breathing. It would also be good if you did some practice when you're anxious, maybe try to look into mindfulness and other relaxation techniques when you are not under any pressure. I always used to find it good to keep reminding myself that I was not in danger and that I was in fact safe. Keep trying out new strategies, you will find one or even maybe a couple that will work best for you. Good luck! :-)
April 5th, 2015 4:04pm
It's very rare for someone to be able to permanently stop panic attacks from happening, but instead you can begin practising meditation on a daily basis. It will be very challenging at first, but if you do this daily, you will get the hang of it, and will notice a long term improvement. Begin with realistic goals, like try and reach 20 seconds of meditation as your starting goal.
April 12th, 2015 9:03pm
There is a technique called 'square breathing'. This is where you slowly pace your breathing by taking a deep breath for 4 seconds, holding it for 4, breathing out for 4 seconds and holding again for 4. Repeat however many times it takes for you to feel a little more relaxed. Controlling your breathing like this can help your body to calm down. It can be tough to do at first but the more you do it, the easier it gets and soon you might be able to control your panic attacks a little easier.
June 10th, 2015 12:07pm
Hi! The intensity of the symptoms of a panic attack can be decreased by using techniques such as breathing exercises (correct belly breathing, inhaling slowly, holding the air in for a bit and then exhaling slowly). Reducing the amount of coffeeine in your diet, avoiding sweets and junk food, getting enough sleep, etc. Exercising and a healthy lifestyle lower your risk of having a panic attack. Stay strong, you will get through it, even if it's very unpleasant and it can feel like you're going crazy or dying, keep in mind that you will be alright... because you will.
June 22nd, 2015 12:55am
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Look around your room or wherever you are and see that everything is still in the same position as it was a few seconds or minutes ago. You may be panicking at the moment but once if all stops, you will realize that everything is still the same. If someone is in the room with you, ask them to hug you or hold you, especially if you are close to them. Ask them to soothe you with their words and their touch. That can also help a lot.
August 4th, 2015 1:25am
If this was five months ago I would have taken a couple of Xanax and in about three minutes the panic attack would have been gone. Now when I get a panic attack I will either 'surf' my way through it. Knowing what is going on makes it a little easier to deal with and dissipates quicker without medication. Breathing is also a big help, concentrating on my breath moves your attention away from the panic attack.
August 18th, 2015 7:22pm
Preparing for an attack like in the Star Wars rebellion. Gather your courage and tool such as meds, books, music, video links. It worked for me.
April 12th, 2016 12:41pm
you have to stay calm take a deep breath and release it out don't try to think of anything else just stick to the situation and I promise you won't get a single after that :)!
April 27th, 2016 11:50pm
I think there are many ways to stop a panic attack from happening, but one of my favorite ways (that is super easy) is called a grounding technique. It is a very powerful and simple technique that is used to keep someone in the here and now. They occur in two forms: sensory awareness (touch and feel) and cognitive awareness (thought/mental awareness). Sensory awareness: Example 1: Place your hands on the chair, couch, furniture you are sitting on and trace your fingers on the fabric or material. You can keep your eyes open or closed (whichever one is more comfortable) and imagine all of the textures you feel. Is it cold? Is it warm? Is it soft? Are there loose threads? Are there parts that are softer than other parts? Example 2: look around the room, identify all the colors that you see; if you are outside, look at the street names, identify as many street names as you see; Example 3: if you are in a meeting or class, look at the ground, identify whether you see tile or carpet, identify how many chairs, count how many pencils you see. Cognitive Awareness: Ask yourself questions to remember where you are at (this is used in many of the severe anxiety attacks). Example: What is my last name? What is today's date? What year is this? etc. My personal favorite is the sensory grounding.
July 11th, 2016 9:41am
You need to be able to identify what is making you feel anxious and target the anxiety at the source. Being able to understand your anxiety and letting it flow through you can help you to understand and overcome underlying problem that is triggering the panic attack.
December 19th, 2016 4:01am
Focus on your breathing and on steadying your heart rate. Easier said than done, I know. But it's possible! I like to immediately give myself space, especially if I am in public/a crowded place. Getting fresh air can help, or if that's not immediately available, sitting with your eyes closed for a few minutes and taking deep/slow breaths can help!
August 28th, 2017 6:09pm
Distraction techniques are popular. Grounding is a common one, finding a number of things to see, hear, touch r things if a certain colour. Finding an action to distract yourself can also help to stop a panic attack as you are ignoring the feeling
December 5th, 2017 4:18pm
There is no one way to stopping a panic attack, but the best solution is to control your breathing. Sit down, clear your head, and focus on your breathing, trying to slow it down.
February 12th, 2018 1:01pm
Pause on whatever you are doing, focus on the circumstance you are in, tell yourself its okay and take really deep breaths. It helps.
March 16th, 2021 3:59pm
Sometimes you can’t stop it from happening, but a good thing to have if you think you’re about to is coping skills. Now this can mean many different things to everyone. Coping skills can very from person to person. Music, reading, deep breathing, coloring, writing, basically any type of hobby, are all coping skills. But it’s also good to have coping skills you can use while you’re not at home, seeing as it may be weird to sing in public if that does help you. Deep breathing, counting to ten or saying the ABCs in your head are all good coping skills. And in case you’re still confused, coping skills are basically distractions.
August 23rd, 2021 11:54pm
I have suffered from major anxiety and panic disorder since being diagnosed in 2016. My panic attacks are exhausting and debilitating and I know how frustrating and endless they can seem. What's helped for me is simple grounding exercises to keep you present. For example, one that is easy and helps me is listing in your head: 3 things you can see, hear, and feel. My body starts to have a freeze response when I have a panic attack coming on, so trying to keep my legs moving can also be really beneficial. Finding ways to clear your mind before you get to the point of the panic attack itself, can be life changing. Personally, I'll try taking a walk around my neighborhood with my music on and my phone in my hand in case I need to reach out to anyone for help. Even sitting outside for a few minutes to get some fresh air can help clear your head as well as a hot shower. Try to focus on self care and try to appreciate the small victories that you achieve. For me, taking a shower or doing my makeup helped make me feel better in my own skin and it made me feel accomplished. If you need someone to listen, my private messages are always open to anyone and everyone. Stay strong, we're rooting for you!